For a software product, the Vision document also serves as the basis for discussion and agreement among the three primary internal stakeholder communities of the project:
The Vision document is uniquely important because it captures the essence of the product from all significant perspectives in a short, abstract, readable, and manageable form. As such, the Vision document is the primary focus in the early phases of the project, and any investment made in the process of gathering Vision document information will pay handsome returns in later phases.
Because virtually all software projects will benefit from having a Vision document, we are going to describe it in some detail. Although our example is oriented toward a software product, it should be a fairly straightforward matter to modify it for your particular system context.
Figure 16-1 provides a briefly annotated outline of a sample Vision document. This outline has been used, with customizations, in hundreds of software products and a wide variety of software applications. A fully annotated version of this document appears in Appendix B.
Figure 16-1. Template for a software product Vision document
In summary, the Vision document is a concise description of everything you consider most important about the product or application. Write the Vision document in plain language and at a level of detail that makes it easy for the primary stakeholders of the project to review and understand the document.